Well what a statement out of the gate for the 2017/2018 edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs. A 7-2 clobbering of the Winnipeg Jets to start the season is something to be excited about, but let’s keep some perspective as well.
This is only game one of a grueling 82 game season. There is a lot the box score glosses over, and to the benefit of the Maple Leafs. It appears players on both teams still have some rust to shake off from the summer, evident of their poor defensive play. Also, who can ignore the parade to the penalty box by both teams?
From a Maple Leafs perspective, this game was won on the back of goaltender Frederik Andersen. If it were not for his heroics in the first 15 minutes of the first period, the final score may have been 7-2 for the Winnipeg Jets. Andersen stood on his head and made some highlight reel saves, keeping his teammates in the game long enough for them to get their offence going.
The Maple Leafs’ forward depth was on showcase last night and the Jets did not have a response until the third. What a game by Patrick Marleau, two goals in his first game as a Maple Leaf. He was a constant threat every time his line, including Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov, took to the ice. Not to be over shadowed by Marleau, the young guns made their presence felt as well . Auston Mathews finished the game with a goal and 2 assists, Marner also with a goal and one assist, and William Nylander with a goal.
Goals from veterans James Van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri are just additional proof of the offensive depth the Maple Leafs have in their arsenal.
Andersen was well positioned all game, and his rebound control was brilliant. This is the Freddie the Maple Leafs’ brass had betted on when they acquired him last year. His struggles from early last season appear to be behind him, which can only bode well for the Maple Leafs this season. He may turn out to be the Maple Leaf’s MVP at season’s end if he can continue to play at this level.
Now that game one is behind us, hopefully lessons were learned from the horrible start. An excessive amount of penalties could have cost the Maple Leafs the game, but fortunately Andersen in net bailed them out. The Maple Leafs take to the ice this Saturday against the New York Rangers. The Maple Leafs better be prepared to improve on their start because the Rangers will offer more of a fight than the Winnipeg Jets. A poor start for the Maple Leafs would mean a lost chance to pocket another two points in the standings.